Unusually extreme cold temperatures across South Carolina on Friday morning led utilities to report an electric demand record as customers tried to keep warm.
South Carolina Electric & Gas reported its predominantly Midlands and Lowcountry customers used 4,970 megawatts of electricity during the 8 a.m. hour Friday. The previous record was 4,926 megawatts set in the summer of 2007.
Duke Energy Carolinas, whose South Carolina customers are primarily in the Upstate region, reported 21,101 megawatt-hours from 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. That exceeded the previous all-time peak record of 20,799 megawatt-hours set on January 30, 2014.
Duke Energy Progress, which covers the state’s northern and Pee Dee region, noted 15,575 megawatt-hours, in the same span. That exceeded the previous all-time peak record of 14,519 megawatt-hours set on January 8, 2015.
“While our systems performed well, the contributions of our customers and their willingness to save energy over the past two days have made a difference,” said Nelson Peeler, Duke Energy vice president of transmission system operations, said in a statement. “I also want to thank our employees who worked tirelessly to keep our systems and plants running during this extreme weather event.”
The National Weather Service reported that temperatures Friday morning ranged from 7 degrees in Rock Hill to 27 on Hilton Head Island with wind chills making it feel even colder. The agency reported winds made it feel like four degrees below zero in Bennettsville early Friday.
The Upstate saw similar weather, as communities just outside the mountains along the North Carolina border reported wind chills down to 2 degrees in Oconee and Pickens counties. A spokesman for Duke Energy Carolinas said they also reported near-record usage among customers in the Upstate, although the utility was still determining if a new high had been reached.
Gov. Nikki Haley, acting at utilities’ request had publicly urged residents to conserve power as much as they could while temperatures plummeted in order to avoid strain on the system. SCE&G officials said they were able to handle the demand. “We want to thank our customers for collaborating with us to meet the trying weather conditions we’ve faced across our service territory over the past couple days,” said SCE&G President of Retail Operations Keller Kissam. “Thanks to their efforts and the hard work of the men and women dedicated to maintaining and operating our electric system, we’ve been able to effectively meet the energy needs of our customers during this uniquely challenging time.”
Duke Energy at one point Friday morning reported about 3,000 customers without power. However, that was down to roughly 100 by afternoon. Most of the outages were in York County.
Officials at York County Natural Gas Authority reported record gas usage Friday. Rock Hill station WRHI reports the utility’s customers used 69,008 decatherms in the 24-hour period ending at 10:00 a.m. The previous high was far less – 61,500 decatherms back in January.